Top 20 Southern African getaways for the festive season

SafariNow looked at a sample of 40,000 customers to gain insight into where they’re from, how they organise their holidays, where they prefer going to, and how they get there …

(Fotalia: #322206)
(Fotalia: #322206)
With over 146,000 listed establishments and more than a million monthly visitors, SafariNow is Africa’s biggest and most…

SafariNow looked at a sample of 40,000 customers to gain insight into where they’re from, how they organise their holidays, where they prefer going to, and how they get there …

Did you know?

  • Holidaymakers from Gauteng are the dominant travellers across all provinces, contributing to 80% of the volume in KwaZulu-Natal alone
  • Travellers from the Western Cape came in second, but they mainly stick to destinations closer to home such as Hermanus, Langebaan and Wilderness
  • The average duration of the festive season holiday is seven days, a big increase from the 2-3 days during the rest of the year
  • Planning is also paramount, with an average 170-day lead time for festive season holiday bookings

18 of the top destinations are coastal

South Africans also love the beach, with 18 out of the top 20 holiday destinations being coastal towns.

South Africans also love the beach, with 18 out of the top 20 holiday destinations being coastal towns. The only inland towns in the top 20 were Bela Bela in Limpopo, and Hazyview in Mpumalanga – a great access point to the Kruger National Park.

KwaZulu-Natal dominates the list, with Margate on the South Coast, followed by Ballito and Umhlanga on the North Coast.


Margate is by far the most cost-effective option, with an average price per person per night of R357. Ballito and Umhlanga are far more expensive options, with an average price of R720 and R790 respectively.

Interestingly, Margate and Ballito are 5 times more popular than Camps Bay which sells at just over R1 000 per person per night.

Take a look at our Top 20 List of the most popular local getaways, and the average cost per person per night.

1. Margate – KwaZulu-Natal (R357)

Margate is a delightful, surprisingly exciting sub-tropical paradise situated on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal and has been a favourite holiday destination in South Africa for over 100 years. Try your hand at deep sea fishing, enjoy the perfect diving conditions, revel in pleasure boat trips, go scuba diving, golfing, birdwatching, or just relax on the over four kilometre Blue Flag Status beach. Afterwards, visit top restaurants and experience the amazing nightlife.


2. Ballito – KwaZulu-Natal (R718)

On KZN’s North Coast, Ballito is a tourist-friendly seaside resort with wonderful, safe, shark net-protected beaches. Tidal pools ranging from kiddies’ paddling pools to a full Olympic-sized pool offer safe bathing for swimmers and non-swimmers.

There is a lovely long boardwalk offering easy scenic beach walking, and a more rugged trail all the way up to Salt Rock that includes a short tunnel, best attempted at low tide. The surfing is great at nearby Salmon Bay


3. Umhlanga – KwaZulu-Natal (R786)

Just north of Durban, Umhlanga is the gateway to the KZN North Coast. Renowned for its fabulous beaches and party atmosphere, it’s a great family holiday destination. The Rock – a 22m-high freestanding climbing wall – is the highest on the planet, and there is a wave machine that has an impressive tube and the only artificial double point break in the world. A mini 4×4 course with mini four-wheel drive vehicles, completes the adventure collection.


4. Knysna – Western Cape (R621)

This medium-sized town on the banks of the beautiful Knysna Lagoon is a real tourist haven. The lagoon and its cultivated oysters for which Knysna is famed, is guarded from the sea by two enormous sandstone cliffs known as The Heads. Guest houses, dive shops and restaurants are in the most spectacular positions. Enjoy tractor tours, abseiling and quad bike tours.


5. Mossel Bay – Western Cape (R471)

Mossel Bay is considered by many to be the westernmost extent of the “real” Garden Route. This town has some wonderful beaches that are among the sunniest in South Africa. Mossel Bay has some fantastic activities on offer, including horse-riding along the beach, diving, surfing, boat-based whale and dolphin watching, as well as shark cage diving for the more adventurous.


6. Bela Bela – Limpopo (R441)

Previously known as Warmbaths, the town owes its existence to the immense hot spring that gushes to the surface at a temperature of 53°C. There are a number of family resorts complete with waterslides, play parks and all the usual child-friendly facilities, some small game farms, and a range of wellness centres and spas.


7. Ponta do Ouro – Mozambique (R372)

Ponta Do Ouro is the southernmost point on the Mozambican coast and is 15 kilometres from the border of South Africa. This quaint holiday village is only a short distance away from the hustle and bustle of city life but just far enough for you to be able to enjoy a laid back dreamy beach vacation. Whether you enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, swimming in warm water, or tanning on white-sand beaches, relaxed Ponta Do Ouro will certainly be your ideal destination.


8. Blouberg – Western Cape (R435)

Blouberg is a suburb of Cape Town along the shores of Table Bay, about 25 km to the north of the city centre of Cape Town. This town attracts a large number of visitors every year and is a popular location for the classic view of Table Mountain across the bay, and the long Blouberg beach is a popular destination for kite-surfers. Robben Island, located 6.9km off the coast of Blouberg, can be seen just off the shore.


9. Plettenberg Bay – Western Cape (R627)

Plettenberg Bay, or Plett as it is more familiarly known, is the most fashionable spot on the Garden Route, and has been called the Riviera of Africa. It’s no exaggeration: with fabulous beaches stretching for miles, whole neighbourhoods of expensive summer homes making the most of the best views, a couple of championship golf courses, and about a dozen world class polo fields, it’s definitely the playground of the rich.


10. Hartbeespoort – North West (R458)

Also known as “Harties”, this town is situated on the slopes of the Magaliesberg and on the banks of the Hartbeespoort Dam. Filled with quaint brick houses surrounding the large man-made dam, this small town is ideal for family day outings or long-weekend holidays. There are enough adventure activities, restaurants and markets in the area to keep you entertained for days on end.


11. Jeffreys Bay – Eastern cape (R415)

Jeffreys Bay, or J-Bay among surfers, is famous for being one of the world’s top surfing spots, and riding the perfect wave accompanied by dolphins is the dream of every surfer. On rare big wave days, the legendary tide can deliver a one-kilometre ride all the way to the Point. The vibrant town has numerous restaurants, surf shops, a thriving craft industry, small Shark Aquarium, Shell Museum and even an interesting Surf Museum. Hip and happening Pepper Street offers numerous restaurants, pubs, grocery stores, surf shops and is a quick walk from Supertubes.


12. Langebaan – Western Cape (R511)

Langebaan is a small town on the edge of the immense Langebaan Lagoon and is a water sports enthusiast’s paradise with wonderful kayaking, fun snorkeling, and some of the best windsurfing and kitesurfing in the world. In summer, migratory water birds arrive in their thousands from as far away as Russia. Schaapen Island, in the middle of the lagoon, is a bird sanctuary filled with gannets, gulls and cormorants.


13. Kingsburgh – KwaZulu Natal (R359)

Originally known as Southern Umlazi, Kingsburgh is comprised of a number of beautiful holiday towns: Doonside, Illovo Beach, Karridene, St Winifred’s Beach, Warner Beach and Winklespruit. Take part in the endless seaside adventures or revel in the breathtaking views of the sea.


14. Wilderness – Western Cape (R522)

In the heart of the Garden Route is a lovely little town in the most fabulous setting. With forested hills at its back, the town jigsaws itself around a number of pretty wetlands and flows over the high coastal dunes to overlook a magnificent long white beach where dolphins and whales come to play. With some fabulous paragliding launch sites, it’s a great place to learn to fly or simply rent a canoe to explore the meandering waterways of the wetlands.


15. Hermanus – Western Cape (R524)

Hermanus is a quaint town on the southern coast of the Western Cape, most well known for its awesome land based whale watching. Walk along the wheelchair-friendly coastal path, or wander around the town and enjoy its many art galleries, restaurants and curio shops.


16. Hartenbos – Western Cape (R395)

Originally a farm that was established during colonial times, Hartenbos has transformed into a holiday resort destination much loved by holiday travelers and locals alike. This town has a plethora of fun features including long stretches of beach, camping parks, and a magnificent water park.


17. Port Edward – KwaZulu-Natal (R368)

A small resort town situated on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, Port Edward is the perfect place to escape to with family or friends looking to enjoy a fun filled summer holiday. Hike through the Red Desert, support wildlife at Crags View Wild Care Centre or sample an array of fine coffees at the Beaver Creek Coffee Estate.


18. Swakopmund – Namibia (R575)

Quad bike across the beautiful desert sands of Namibia or indulge in the scenic German architecture embracing the streets of this city. Experience the skeleton coast, barter with a local, or trek along the Namib Desert – there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


19. Hazyview – Mpumalanga (R408)

A pretty little town surrounded by lovely guest houses and amazing restaurants, Hazyview offers fun mountain biking and horse-riding trails, and kloofing trips. If you’re not the sort who likes to keep your feet on the ground, you can enjoy a microlight flip, a scenic helicopter flight or a ride in a hot air balloon.


20. St. Lucia – KwaZulu-Natal (R424)

Surrounded by the estuary and Indian Ocean, St Lucia is South Africa’s own little island. Here you can boat ride to see hippos and crocs, kayak on the lake, visit the Crocodile Research Centre, hike across the scenic lands or go horse-riding along the many trails.



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